Town’s dance academy flourishes anew
Erica Fish, Ave Maria Development
Among the first businesses to establish in the Ave Maria Town Center, the Ave Maria Dance Academy has remained a focal art and culture service for the community and surrounding areas. Early this November, the public celebrated new owners Charl and Okkie Van Wyk, and their refreshed concept of the studio.
As residents of Ave Maria, the pair knew their permanent home needed to include a store front operation. “When the opportunity came to purchase the academy earlier this year, we felt extremely grateful to know we could share the blessings and opportunities of dance with others,” said director Okkie Van Wyk.
Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a complete novice, all ages can select instruction in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe and pre-pointe, theatre jazz, hip hop and more. For those looking to pursue their talents on a professional scale, the Van Wyks offer their dance company program for higher-level training and event performances. “I’m so grateful to be teaching ballet and lyrical dance at the academy this year! I’m even more grateful with getting to know more of my neighbors at the same time,” said instructor Ms. Elizabeth.
“Our daughter, Adryan, started her dance journey at three years old and is now on the Ave Maria University dance team. She has grown in strength, dedication, and confidence through her years of training and performing; and we intend the same experiences for our students,” said Mrs. Van Wyk.
Leading up to the academy’s re-opening, Adryan, her little brother Nathan and their friends repainted the studio’s silhouette mural, and tapping into neighborly resources, Okkie connected with her friend Marcia Boivin, local business owner of Sweet Rustic Faith. After redesigning the business logo, Adryan collaborated with Marcia on creating business signage and the wooden logo which is displayed in the studio’s lobby.
Apart from weekly instruction, the studio offer afterschool and evening classes, a homeschool dance program, birthday parties, private sessions, ballroom dance events and summer trainings. “We are thrilled to see its legacy continue and serve Ave Maria’s aspiring dancers,” said Cee Cee Marinelli, director of Ave Maria development.
Okkie’s vision is not only to teach the technicalities of dance, but also foster a sense of community and self-expression. The academy encourages families to participate side by side, as it’s not just about learning dance steps; it’s about creating memories and strengthening bonds through the art of movement.
The academy already has made a positive impact in Ave Maria with its renewed look and purpose. The family has enrolled new students soon after opening and numerous couples have spread the word about fun date nights learning the salsa.
“The smiles on the faces of our dancers, their families and the community at large, speak volumes and explains why we do what we do,” said Mrs. Van Wyk.
For more information about the Ave Maria Dance Academy, visit their site or call (239) 261 – 2606.